Since its announcement in 2015, fans have been waiting with bated breath to experience the ultimate showdown between Godzilla and Kong. It took some time to get here, with the COVID-19 pandemic pushing back the release of the film. However, the time has finally arrived to find out who the ultimate Titan is in Adam Wingard‘s GODZILLA VS. KONG.
In GODZILLA VS. KONG, fans get to see these mythic adversaries meet in a spectacular battle for the ages, with the fate of the world hanging in the balance. Kong and his protectors undertake a perilous journey to find his true home, and with them is Jia, a young orphaned girl with whom he has formed a unique and powerful bond. But they unexpectedly find themselves in the path of an enraged Godzilla, cutting a swath of destruction across the globe. The epic clash between the two titans – instigated by unseen forces – is only the beginning of the mystery that lies deep within the core of the Earth.
When dealing with two massive Titans such as Godzilla and Kong, one would expect them to be in competition for screen time. However, what’s great about GODZILLA VS. KONG is that both are given ample time to thrive on screen. In this film, which takes place after the events of Godzilla: King of the Monsters, the world has learned to co-exist with Titans. Early on in the film, Godzilla returns to land not as a protector but as a perceived instigator after attacking the Apex Cybernetics facility, invoking an even greater fear in people towards the Titan. However, not everything is as it seems, something that Apex employee, Bernie Hayes (Brian Tyree Henry) begins to explore after finding a suspicious machine in Apex’s secured area. Through his ridiculous conspiracy theory podcast, Titan Truth, he catches the attention of Madison (Millie Bobby Brown) who believes that Godzilla’s return has to do with an unknown threat. She grabs her friend Josh (Julian Dennison), mainly because he has a car, and they head out to find Bernie. I didn’t know how I was going to feel about this ragtag group, but I ended up really appreciating their humor as they found themselves in a slew of over-the-top and dangerous situations. But, if I’m being really honest here, Brian Tyree Henry and Julian Dennison were the special pinch of humor needed to make their group situation work.
On the Kong side of things, he’s living in an enclosed habitat designed to look like Skull Island. It’s here that we meet newcomer Kaylee Hottle, playing Jai, a deaf Iwi native who was rescued from Kong Island and adopted by Dr. Ilene Andrews (Rebecca Hall). In a movie where all the attention is typically on the monsters fighting and causing mayhem, Kaylee Hottle steals the entire god damn show. Hottle perfectly conveyed the love and care needed to understand a species that we are not familiar with and was a guiding light in terms of showing people how compassion and understanding go a long way. She’s pivotal in communicating with Kong, which led to a really nice teaching moment for Dr. Ilene Andrews.
As a personal antidote, I found it really sweet that both Rebecca Hall and Alexander Skarsgård took the time to learn ASL in order to communicate with Hottle, both on and offset. Speaking of Skarsgård, who plays geologist, Dr. Nathan Lind, he’s the one to kick off this Kong adventure after a meeting with APEX President, Walter Simmons (Demián Bichir). This leads Dr. Lind to Ilene Andrews in hopes that Kong will lead them to Hollow Earth, a possible destination of where these Titans come from. The theories and lore are far too much for this review but here’s a link that can help you understand more. The team, along with Apex’s crew, which includes an underutilized Eiza González, head to where they believe Hollow Earth is located.
I know, I know, I know. Ya’ll are here for the monsters, but I wanted to get the story out of the way. And now that I have, let’s celebrate the best part of GODZILLA VS. KONG – the monsters, and the fighting! Across the board, the VFX was incredible, from the way in which the monsters looked to the execution of the fight scenes. I can only imagine the blood, sweat, and tears that went into creating this visual spectacle and, because of that, the film truly shines. Every fight scene is impressive, but the two that will really get the heart pumping are when Kong and Godzilla meet for the first time as well as a fight that takes place in Hong Kong featuring a cacophony of neon lights, destroyed buildings, and colorful smoke. If you’re familiar with director Adam Wingard’s horror/thriller, The Guest, you’ll notice a similar color palette and style that he brought with him to this film. There’s also an ’80s action movie feel to the film that reminded me of a mix of any Kurt Russell action film from that time combined with Tron-inspired lighting, which made the viewing experience that much more exciting and eye-popping.
Unfortunately, before the film came out in the US, it was revealed that [redacted] shows up, but for the sake of spoilers, I’m not going to talk about that because it deserves to be seen and experienced. That said, for those wondering if there’s a winner between Godzilla and Kong, there is. But it’s done in a way that I think will make everyone happy. Needless to say, fans of the franchise are going to be in for a treat.
GODZILLA VS. KONG is a visual spectacle featuring jaw-dropping fight scenes between the two iconic titans. It does suffer from the use of a convoluted story that I think, at times, takes away from what the audience truly wants to see. Additionally, the film felt very overcrowded in regards to the cast. Having big names is paramount for a film such as this but, because we are bouncing from one big name to the next, we never really get to know much about the characters. Let’s be real, though. Most people aren’t going into these films wanting a solid storyline and Oscar-worthy performances. I just wished the characters had a bit more depth to them. All that being said, for those who want nothing more than giant monsters fighting, destroyed cities, and stellar VFX, then you’ll be all good!
GODZILLA VS. KONG arrives in theaters on March 31st, with a simultaneous release on HBO Max.